Oh – My – God! It’s a Fanon!!! (Updated)

The internet is crackling with the shocking — and to some people delightful — news that the Pope has worn a fanon during the recent canonization Mass in St. Peter’s square. Yes, that’s right, I said a fanon. Can you believe it?!!!

Um. . . what’s a fanon, you say? Have you been living under a rock or something? Every right-minded liturgy geek knows that it’s a piece of stripey cloth that looks like a bib that Pope’s have worn since the eighth century for those occasions they want to get really fancy.

Now certain ecclesiofascists would like you to think that this is a great good thing, heralding a new age of all things holy and Catholic. Don’t be fooled. I want to be the first to go on record to say that all of us right-thinking PrayTellers know that it is more or less the Mark of the Beast, and a sign of impending Papal doom. Heck, now that they’ve brought the fanon out of retirement  you might as well leave the Church before they kick you out.

And if anyone tries to tell you that it’s neither the restoration of all things in Christ nor a gold and white version of the ecclesiastical jackboot, but just a piece of cloth (albeit a slightly silly looking one). . . well, that’s just crazy talk.

Update

Apparently news of the fanon led to the organization of a counter-demonstration in Brazil. Here’s the video.

37 comments

  1. And what’s even more exciting and fun about the bombshell news of the fanon that reminds me a bit like the feather pillow ticking of year’s past is that I beat Rorate Caeli and WDTPRS in posting this earth, heaven and Church, not to mention praytell shaking news at my little ole blog first! That as well as the fanon are/is kool! Blogging doesn’t get any better than that. 🙂

    1. Actually, Fritz here at PTB was the very first to post the real story on this – an astute analysis of the tone of other blogs who posted on the fanon. 🙂 awr

  2. Perhaps the Pope thought he would have ‘cold shoulders’ being outside and wanted a ‘shawl’ to keep his neck and upper body warm — a not unlikely ‘weakness’ at his age. Being of silk it would perform that task usefully without calling undue attention. Or maybe some one gave it to him and he just decided to use it on this occasion — when the donor would be present.

  3. The more interesting question is: when’s he going to don a falda? He might need flabellae to restore his sense of balance moving around in a falda.

  4. Joking aside, while I just roll my eyes at the arrival of new/old bits of tat, I’m much more concerned that the first two readings and the psalm were proclaimed from a simple lectern on the ‘Epistle side’, while the Gospel was proclaimed from a more substantial ambo on the ‘Gospel side’. What was that about?

    Separating the places of proclamation for the Liturgy of the Word – simple for the lay lectors and grand for the ordained deacon – gives me a lot more heartburn than the latest piece of silly dressing-up.

    1. @Adam Mindenki – comment #8:
      My sentiments exactly. Expect the tiara and sedia gestatoria to return soon. To be followed by the train with it’s throne room. Then the golden coach taken out of mouth balls. Just perfect for inspecting the restored Papal States.

  5. So??? Now we know what a fanon is.
    Why the silly fuss?
    This isn’t the only thing in ecclesiatical vesture that dates back to or earlier than the VIII. century.
    It’s rather like the uproar over gibbet: tell people what it means and they have nothing then to complain about. Simple. Problem solved. They might even incorporate it into their vocabularies.
    (Not that we might incorporate fanons into our wardrobes. From the description of it, I might even think that it would look slightly tacky. But nonetheless, I am enlightened, and pleased that HH would think it appropriate to present us with it.)
    All this cavalier derision and disrespect for our chief shepherd does not speak well of those who indulge in it. As if the only thing HH ever did was to wear a fanon?

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #13:
        The problem, Deacon Fritz, is that when PrayTell publishes posts suggesting “[c]ongregations who hold allegiance to more traditional forms tend to isolate themselves from the larger purposes of the church” (with basically no evidence and without even bothering to define “larger purposes of the church”) it gets hard sometimes to tell the satire from the seriousness (and that’s hardly the most egregious thing ever published here).

        Having seen your writing on the internet for years (e.g. back in the comments at Amy Welborn’s years ago), I’m confident that you wouldn’t write “ecclesiofascists” seriously. That it wouldn’t appear here seriously from someone else’s keyboard… not so much.

      2. Sam, I don’t accept your critique in this case. I think you’re missing the genre. The statement you quote is a judgment, an opinion, OK? It’s what social philosophers and social commentators and editorial writers do all the time. It’s not the empirical, scientific conclusion of a massive, well-funded research project carried out over six months by a team of six researchers. It’s an observation. If you disagree with the judgment, fine. Say so. But it gets tedious having you nitpick, acting is if there’s some smoking gun or you caught someone out not providing all the footnotes and lab study reports. I’m sure you could intuit what sorts of “larger purposes” are meant – you’re obviously a bright guy, based on your writing. I bet it’s ecumenism, engagement with the modern world, inculturation, collegiality and decentralization, participative governance structure, and the like. That you have difficulty distinguishing a serious comment from sarcasm is, I suspect, willful ignorance.
        awr

      3. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #16:
        That you have difficulty distinguishing a serious comment from sarcasm is, I suspect, willful ignorance.

        Well, I didn’t say that I had trouble distinguishing it. In fact, I explained why it wouldn’t be hard for me: “I’m confident that [Deacon Fritz] wouldn’t write ‘ecclesiofascists’ seriously.”

        In the sentence, “it gets hard sometimes to tell the satire from the seriousness” read not in a nitpicky 🙂 way as limited to me at this moment… read “sometimes” instead as “it gets hard for some persons x1, x2, … xn at some times y1, y2, … yn to tell the satire from the seriousness.”

        And indeed, it seems it wasn’t as clear to M. Jackson Osborn, since he found “fuss” where Deacon Fritz intended to satirize “fuss”

        I’ll take up the substance of the other post in the other post when I get a chance, but my objection is hardly “nitpicking.” Appeals to “opinion” and “judgment”, are no protection against the responsibility of commentators that their opinions, especially negative opinions of other people or groups of people in the Church (where it seems we have a greater obligation of charity than do the newspaper columnists of the day towards public figures), be based on something other than assertion and consider relevant facts or differences in outlook.

        If I opine that the moon is made of green cheese, it’s not nitpicking for you to point out that I’ve never been there and people who have see the situation differently. You can do that even if you’re not a tenured astronomer and even without calling for a new moon mission.

      4. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #14:

        There is some data on the ways in which parishes look in and out with respect to their stance vis a vis the liturgy. See a study done in San Francisco looking at a cross section of parishes, reported in Sense of the Faithful by Jerome Baggett. It’s been a while since I read it, but the questions asked in the study are in the back and are wonderfully deep (not just “check a box”).

  6. I am not at all surprised or concerned that the Pope Benedict has donned the fanon. Pope Paul VI’s rationalization of vestments and ecclesiastical dress is entirely appropriate. And yet, the reigning Pont. Max. acts only for himself. A future pontiff might well return to Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s simpler approach to papal attire.

    I would be very concerned if Pope Benedict appeared at the doors of St. Peter’s crowned in a tiara. I contend that the tiara represents the triumphant and imperial Church of Trent and not the pilgrim Church of the Second Vatican Council. A pope who reintroduces the tiara risks an implicit repudiation of a keystone concept of the council. In the postconciliar worldview, believers do not form an army for the defense of orthodoxy, but rather a Church on a road to discover truth humbly.

    I respect that a number of Catholics have a sentimental or aesthetic attachment to the tiara. In my opinion, these preferences do not outweigh the hermeneutical rupture a reappearance of the tiara would create.

  7. I contend that the tiara represents the triumphant and imperial Church of Trent and not the pilgrim Church of the Second Vatican Council.

    There is only one Catholic Church.

    A pope who reintroduces the tiara risks an implicit repudiation of a keystone concept of the council.

    A pope cannot repudiate a keystone concept of a council, implicit or otherwise. It’s either not a keystone concept of a council in any meaningful sense or it’s not a repudiation. The Church is indefectible.

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #12:

      Sam, the one Church has shown many faces over the centuries. The Tridentine face was one of defiant isolation. The Tridentine Church wanted nothing of peaceful intra-Christian relations or dialogue with Enlightenment thought, modernism, and postmodernism. Rather, the Church first “won back” peoples to Rome on points of Hapsburg swords. The tiara in part symbolizes the long-gone temporal rule of pontiff-princes obviated by the Second Vatican Council. Catholics are left, daresay gifted, with popes who are once again emphatically shepherds of souls and not warriors constantly battling threats both worldly and spiritual.

      The Tridentine Church that would not and could not venture outside of its metaphorical fortress will never exist again. Even the EF must be interpreted through a postconciliar lens. I agree with you Sam that “repudiation” is not the right word. Even so, a pope who elects to don the tiara once again communicates to the postconciliar church a willingness to embrace an anti-(post)modern worldview which no longer reflects the lived Catholic faith. How could a pope who dons the tiara pray EP III when he implicitly revives the model of a triumphant church?

      Certainly, the model of pilgrim church cannot be denied as it is a teaching of a dogmatic council. Certainly, the Church is indefectible regardless of its historical personae. Nevertheless, a return to previous models of Church which no longer exercise a role in the Church’s understanding of self dilutes the potency of the pilgrim church message.

  8. Deacon Fritz, I just hit your link at the beginning of your post, “news” and it brought me to “The Hermeneutic of Continuity” blog out of England, which gave credit to Southern Cross, which when I pushed it brought me back to my little ole blog, the source of all of this earth, heaven, Church and praytell shaking news! Of course I have corrected his hermeneuticalness about the correct name of my blog, but again, just when I think it can’t get any better in my little blogging world, it does! 🙂

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt : Fr. Allan, While Fr. Finnegan might have stolen the news from you, I suspect the folks at Rorate had some sort of algorithm set up to alert them to any mention of the fanon on the internet.

      Funny!

  9. Terrific Update! Far superior to the original!

    One culture’s clown Mass is another culture’s fanon Mass.

    The “Latins” in Brazil have upstaged the “Latins” in Rome!

  10. At risk of appearing simplistic–I’m left wondering what this latest little bit of papal vesture is meant to mean to me in my little corner of God’s acre.

    That’s a question I’d pose to those who might grow exercised about it as much as to those who cheer at it.

    But I’d even more willingly pose it to Pope Benedict, himself. There is a certain merit I see in ‘footnoting the tradition,’ as he has described his sartorial excursions. But it would be far more meritorious and meaningful if that footnoting would get out, beyond his closet. The tradition did, I believe, include a non-celibate presbyterate for approximately 1,000 years. There is some evidence that the tradition contains deaconesses. The tradition did include shared, collegial governance among bishops. Where are those footnotes?

    I’m only asking because the Holy Father will run out of new old garments soon. And there is so much more in the tradition that might have a meaningful effect on the practice of faith for the rest of us.

  11. OK… which came first…. the fanon or…. the barber’s cloth? (When I see the fanon used, I can only picture the Holy Father being pursued by a deacon with clippers…..)

  12. Given the spasms that certain ecclesiastics, including Msgr Magee, had when the fanon was last used by Pope John Paul II at St. Cecilia in 1984, I wonder if it’s appropriate to be so dismissive of the possibility that this latest hermeneutic of continuity in the papal liturgy fills some with dismay.

    Of course, if that kind of Pavlovian reaction can no longer be found, it’s a mark of how far we’ve come.

  13. My question is – who in the Vatican is spending all this time rifling through the closets and dragging these things out? (Or having one specially made, since this one is obviously new) And of course people are going to notice if the Pope is wearing something that has only been seen once in the last 40 some years – so why use it? Why not tell us? Will this be the norm?

    Same with the epistle and Gospel sides. Again – why? The norm is a single ambo. Why decide for this Mass to have two? And why don’t they explain it?

    Liturgy is visual – it teaches – so if you are going outside of the norm, explain it to us.

  14. Sean Whelan —

    A good reason to have two ambos is because we extremely deaf people need every visual cue we can get as to where in the Mass we are. You have no idea how hard it is to participate when the movements and postures of those on the altar are not distinctive. I have just about given up trying to participate.

    Given how deaf the boomers are due to their loud music, the problem can only get worse.

  15. Ann,
    So the extremely deaf people can’t tell just from the change to a reader in vestments and the fact that everyone around them is standing?

  16. Sean Whelan : My question is – who in the Vatican is spending all this time rifling through the closets and dragging these things out? (Or having one specially made, since this one is obviously new) And of course people are going to notice if the Pope is wearing something that has only been seen once in the last 40 some years – so why use it? Why not tell us? Will this be the norm? Same with the epistle and Gospel sides. Again – why? The norm is a single ambo. Why decide for this Mass to have two? And why don’t they explain it? Liturgy is visual – it teaches – so if you are going outside of the norm, explain it to us.

    I would like to point out that this is not the first time two ambos have been used at Papal Mass. Indeed, the Mass for the opening of the Year of Faith had two ambos.

  17. Why the “Fanon”? Because our Pope is Benedict XVI. And Popes, and this one, of all Popes in recent memory, have consistently rewritten or reinterpreted the rules/norms/customs as they see fit. Abrogated rules are only abrogatd till the Pope sees differently.
    Look to the photos from the 1950’s and earlier, still lots more to drag out of the closet.

  18. Fr. Brendan,

    Do you suppose it would be blasphemous, or merely uncharitable and rotten to pray for some moths in the closet? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *